Monday, November 19, 2018

Health Benefits of Positivity and Positivity Exercises to Try

Spending time with positive, rather than negative, people isn’t just more enjoyable — the company you keep also has deep implications when it comes to your overall well-being. Both positivity and negativity tend to be contagious, which means surrounding yourself with negative friends, family members and coworkers will tend to worsen your mood and outlook. But even more troubling, the negativity you pick up from others may potentially shorten your lifespan and impact your health in other serious ways too.

On the other hand, if your inner circle consists of people who exude positivity, you’re more likely to experience a boost in both your physical and mental health. Research suggests that benefits associated with positivity include: increased longevity, protection against chronic stress, increased happiness, greater meaning of life and greater connection to others.
What Is Positivity?

The definition of positivity is “the practice of being or tendency to be positive or optimistic in attitude.” (1) People who have a positive character are said to accept the world as it is, look for the silver lining when something unfortunate happens and spread messages of hope to others. (2)

Psychology experts consider the start of the recent “positivity movement” to be the late 1990s, when the field of positive psychology was first developed. (3) Positive psychologists study happiness and positive emotions (essentially what makes life worth living), rather than dysfunction and mental illness, which most fields of psychology have traditionally focused on. Positive psychologists work to uncover habits and attitudes that can lead people to become happier and more fulfilled, including those related to positive thinking.

While more attention may be paid to positivity’s benefits today than in the past, certain populations have long exemplified the power of positive thinking and spending time with uplifting people. For example, in Okinawa, Japan — one of the world’s “Blue Zones,” where the average life expectancy for women is around 90 years, one of the highest in the world — people form a special kind of social network called a moai, a group of several friends who offer social, emotional and even financial support that typically lasts a lifetime.

Many children join moais from a very young age, sometimes even from the time of birth. Adults in the same moais share a lifelong journey together, often working together to grow crops and split gardening responsibilities, to take care of one another’s families, to offer help when a child gets sick and provide emotional support when someone passes away. Because moai members together create an atmosphere of positivity that influences one another’s behaviors, such as by encouraging exercise and a healthy diet, they also have a positive affect on each other’s health.

Author of The Blues Zones and National Geographic writer Dan Buettner tells us that “People in Blue Zones reach age 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the U.S. and spend most of their lives in good health.” Some of the ways they practice positivity, especially by forming supportive relationships, include: having a strong sense of purpose, doing activities that reduce stress regularly, enjoying meals or a glass of wine with friends belonging to a faith-based community, putting family first and choosing friends with healthy habits. (4)
The Power of Positivity: 6 Benefits of Positivity/Positive Thinking
1. Increases Happiness

What makes us happy? Emerging research suggests people who practice positivity and gratitude together experience multiple benefits, including feeling relatively happier, more energetic and more hopeful and experiencing more frequent positive emotions.

Positivity seems to help us recognize hidden opportunities for enjoyable states like relaxation, playfulness and connection. As it’s described in a recent Psychology Today article, “People who are satisfied with life eventually have even more reason to be satisfied, because happiness leads to desirable outcomes at school and work, to fulfilling social relationships and even to good health and long life.” (5)
2. Buffers Against Negative Effects of Stress & Anxiety

In her book The How of Happiness, Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky tells us that “how you think — about yourself, your world, and other people — is more important to your happiness than the objective circumstances of your life.” Positivity seems to be protective against negative health outcomes because it reduces the effects that chronic stress has on your body. A number of studies have found that having strong social relationships, especially with positive people, protects against the damaging effects of disappointments and setbacks.

A 2017 New York Times article points out that “there is no longer any doubt that what happens in the brain influences what happens in the body. When facing a health crisis, actively cultivating positive emotions can boost the immune system and counter depression.” (6) Many studies conducted over the past several decades have found evidence of a link between positivity and improved health markers including:

3. Reduces Risk for Anxiety Disorders

Studies have found that depressed and anxious individuals have a decreased ability to identify positive emotional content in the context of competing alternatives — and that these impairments contribute to “ineffective emotion regulation” that is the hallmark of these disorders. (8) In other words, one of the features of mood disorders is pessimistic/negative thinking. People with these disorders generate negative thoughts so automatically that they are unaware that it is happening and that their thoughts can be ignored or altered. (9)

A 2016 study published in Behavioral Research and Study found that positive thinking can help to decrease pathological worry and risk for mental-health conditions like Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). (10)  The study examined alternative approaches to reducing worry among people with GAD by having  one group of participants practice replacing usual worries with images of possible positive outcomes versus another group replacing usual worries with verbal expression of possible positive outcomes. A comparison control condition group visualized positive images unrelated to worry.

All groups benefited from the positive thinking training, with decreases in anxiety and worry. There were no significant differences found between groups, suggesting that any type of replacement of worry with different forms of positive ideation is beneficial for mental health.

4. Contributes to Greater Meaning of Life

A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry found that people with high levels of positive thinking report feeling that their lives have more meaning following stressful events. The study, which included 232 students and community-dwelling adults, intended to test whether positive automatic cognitions (thoughts) moderated the relationship between event stressfulness and meaning in life. The researchers found that those who said they practiced positive cognitions associated stress with higher meaning in life, while those with low levels of positive thinking associated stressful events with lower meaning in life. (11)
5. Increases Your Connection to Others

Practicing positive thinking helps us to maintain mental clarity, perspective and a bird’s eye view of the circumstances in our lives, allowing our vision to expand and helping us to form more accurate connections … Some researchers refer to this as “the broaden effect” of positivity. Positive emotions have also been shown to increase our sense of oneness with others and the world around us.

Positivity can help us when it comes to connecting to people in our community, at work and in religious organizations. This is important because studies have found that our connections to other people build meaning and purpose and are a major factor in what makes life seem like it’s “worth living.”
6. Reinforces Healthy Habits

Positivity tends to build upon itself, meaning when we experience more positive emotions, it’s easier to build health-promoting habits that contribute to our ongoing happiness. According to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “As we make a habit of seeking out pleasing states, we change and grow, becoming better versions of ourselves, developing the tools we need to make the most out of lives … The benefits of positive emotions obey a tipping point: When positive emotions outnumber negative emotions by at least 3 to 1, the benefits accrue. (12)
8 Positivity Exercises

So how do you focus on the positive and shift your attention away from the negative? The positivity exercises below can help you inject more positivity into your own life, as well as the lives of those around you:

    Identify negative self-talk. Start paying attention to ways you engage in negative self-talk, such as: magnifying the negative aspects of a situation and filtering out all of the positive ones, automatically blaming yourself, always anticipating the worst and seeing things only as either good or bad with no middle ground. Identify areas of your life you usually think negatively about and then focus on one area at a time to approach in a more positive way.

    Repeat positive affirmations. Find positive words or positivity quotes that you can repeat to yourself daily or put somewhere that you see often (such as your computer or refrigerator).

    Keep a gratitude journal. The practice of gratitude involves a focus on the present moment, on appreciating your life as it is today. Try keeping a journal that you write in briefly each morning or night, jotting down things that made you feel happy and appreciative. This helps you learn to “think in terms of abundance” and savor pleasurable experiences and serves as an antidote to negative emotions, including jealousy/envy, regret, hostility, worry and irritation.

    Incorporate body positivity practices. Instead of always focusing on your weight or things you wish to change about your body, look for things that your body already does perfectly well, such as allowing you to exercise, go about your day, work and engage with others. Focus on your behaviors rather than the outcome. For example, establish an exercise routine and eat a healthy diet filled with mood-boosting foods because these have a positive affect on your outlook and stress levels, not because they might lead to weight loss.

    Avoid social comparison. Rather than focusing on what other people have that you don’t, think about things you’re thankful for in your own life. Find things about yourself that make you unique and valuable, and consider writing about your own strengths in a journal. Treat yourself like a friend by practicing self-compassion, and don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else.

    Carve time out for fun and relaxation. Make time for calming, stress-relieving activities — or those that make you smile or laugh. Seek out humor in everyday life and give yourself permission to take breaks.

    Be mindful. Practice mindfulness or meditation, which teach you to focus on “the here and now,” rather than the past or future. This is helpful for thinking of emotions/thoughts as only temporary and less overwhelming, since everything is always evolving and changing.

    Help others and volunteer.  How can you spread positivity? One way is to focus on benefiting the lives of others, which also has the added benefit of boosting your mood too. Helping others gets you “out of your own head” and can make you feel connected, grateful and proud.

Are there any downsides to being positive?

Some argue that constantly striving to be positive when you really feel the opposite can mean you’re denying how you really feel, potentially leaving you feeling closed off from certain emotions. The goal of practicing positivity shouldn’t be to deny or ignore the fact that sometimes you feel sad, annoyed, irritated or disappointed. Instead, it can be helpful to first accept how you feel and then recognize that everything is temporary. You can’t always control your circumstances or how things will turn out, but you can try your best to learn from experiences and find something to be grateful for even when things aren’t perfect. (13)

Essential oils are naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds that come from the seeds, bark, stems, flowers and roots of plants. If you’ve used them before, I’m sure you’re already familiar with how incredibly potent, fragrant and beneficial they can be to your health, but have you ever tried essential oils for pets?

According to the American Kennel Club, “Preliminary research suggests that these potent oils may have some health benefits for dogs and humans, and many holistic veterinarians incorporate essential oils into their practices.” Many pet owners today are turning to essential oils for a variety of health concerns in their pets, including flea and tick prevention, skin issues, and behavior problems like anxiety. (1)

While using essential oils for pets is known to have its benefits, it’s vital to know which oils are safe to use, how to use them, and to remember that, like people, each animal is different and may react uniquely to a particular essential oil. Similar to the use of oils with children, it’s absolutely crucial to remember that a little goes a long, long way with pets.
Are Essential Oils Safe for Pets?

If you’re wondering about the safety of essential oils for pets, the answer is that some essential oils are considered OK for use with pets. There are a good amount of essential oils that have been deemed safe and, even better helpful, to pet health. However, there are also many essential oils toxic to dogs and cats (and animals in general), which I will talk about later in this article. But first, are you ready to learn all about the best essential oils for pets, specifically dogs and cats?
Essential Oils for Pets: 5 Best Oils + Uses for Dogs

What essential oils are OK for dogs? The following oils are not only OK for dogs, but they’re also known to have some really impressive potential benefits!

Below is a short list of essential oils that experts say are safe to use on dogs:
1. Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is a popular choice among humans so maybe you already have this incredible essential oil on hand for your furry friend. If you’re looking for essential oils for dog odor, lavender is a great scent that pet owners tend to love too. Plus, studies demonstrate lavender’s amazing helpful effects on cases of PTSD as well as its anti-anxiety ability, so it will likely calm both you and your pet. (2, 3)

For pets like dogs, lavender essential oil’s calming effects can be very helpful for anxiety (often induced by visits to the vet or car rides), car sickness or sleep troubles. A 2006 clinical trial looked at the effects of lavender essential oil on 32 dogs with a history of travel-induced excitement in their owners’ cars. What did they find? The dogs exposed to the scent of lavender oil spent a significant amount more time resting and sitting and a lot less time moving around and vocalizing. Overall, the researchers conclude, “Traditional treatments for travel-induced excitement in dogs may be time-consuming, expensive, or associated with adverse effects. Aromatherapy in the form of diffused lavender odor may offer a practical alternative treatment for travel-induced excitement in this species.” (4)

Lavender oil is a great topical remedy for canine skin concerns like allergies and burns. It’s also a common choice of essential oils for dog wounds and essential oils for dogs itching. (5)
2. Peppermint Oil

You may already be familiar with this popular, refreshing essential oil. Will peppermint oil hurt dogs? Peppermint is one of the top recommended essential oils to get rid of fleas in dogs. You’ll actually find peppermint as one of the more commonly used essential oils for dog flea repellent for sale in pet shops and online today.

According to Dr. Janet Roark, a veterinarian and the owner of Hill Country Mobile Veterinary Service in Austin, Texas, “Peppermint essential oil can be used to cool sore muscles, energize tired animals, and soothe upset stomachs. It refreshes the air when diffused and can freshen breath with taken internally. This oil can open the airways and promote a healthy respiratory tract, as well as soothe aching joints.”

As an energizing oil, it can be a great mood booster for animals too. Roark, who is also known as the “Essential Oil Vet,” instructs that peppermint oil is best used topically with dogs. (6)

The American Kennel Club has a great essential oil dog shampoo recipe that includes several recommendations for essential oils for dog fleas prevention, including peppermint. Check out it Flea-Repellent Dog Shampoo with Essential Oils, which includes simple ingredients you may likely have on hand already. Using a shampoo like this regularly is the perfect way to use essential oils to kill fleas on dogs.
3. Chamomile Oil

Roman chamomile oil is a well-known anti-inflammatory that is a great choice for both humans and dogs alike if the problem is a skin irritation, burns, wounds, ulcers or eczema. (7, 8) This is a very gentle essential oil that can also help calm a stressed-out dog. (9)

If you’re looking for essential oils recipes for dogs using chamomile oil, check out this super easy Calming Spray Recipe that also includes lavender oil.
4. Frankincense Oil

Can you use frankincense oil for dogs? For most dogs, the answer is “yes!” In fact, Dr. Richard Palmquist, chief of integrative health services at Centinela Animal Hospital in Inglewood, Calif., says that using frankincense oil in some cases of cancer and tumors can be very helpful. (10) The use of frankincense oil in pet cancer isn’t that surprising when you consider that research has shown the powerful potential for frankincense oil to help fight some forms of human cancer, including bladder cancer. (11)

Frankincense oil is known to have potent antimicrobial abilities, making it a great choice for germ fighting and immune boosting too. (12) Research using animal models (mice) also shows that this ancient oil has powerful anti-depressive effects. (13)
5. Cedarwood Oil

According to Dogs Naturally Magazine, cedarwood oil (Cedrus Atlantica or Cedrus deodara) is a terrific natural pest repellent. Cedarwood essential oil when used in dogs also can act as an antiseptic for the lungs, expectorant for coughs (like kennel cough), circulation stimulator (making it helpful for bodily pains and arthritis), hair growth booster and dandruff reducer, diuretic, and a general calming agent that can help with behavior concerns like shyness or nervous aggression. (14)

Essential Oils for Pets: 5 Best Oils + Uses for Cats

What are some of the best essential oils for cats?

According to Palmquist, the following oils can typically be safely used with cats (and dogs) on a short-term basis: (15)
1. Spearmint Oil

Somewhat similar to peppermint oil in terms of its scent and uses, spearmint oil can really come in handy with cats for a lot of different concerns, including nausea and diarrhea. For overweight cats, some vets use spearmint oil to balance the metabolism, and in felines with gastrointestinal problems, the oil can be used to improve unwanted symptoms. Like most essential oils, spearmint oil should be diluted before application.
2. Frankincense Oil

According Palmquist, frankincense essential oil has shown itself to be helpful in some cases of cancer. He’s also seen it reduce tumors and external ulcers. Frankincense oil may also boost blood supply to the brain, but it may make high blood pressure worse too so be careful when using it. You can check with your vet, but it’s probably best to refrain from using this oil if your cat has a history of hypertension.
3. Cardamom Oil

Just like with humans, cardamom oil is a great digestive aid for pets. It can help ease heartburn while also encouraging a healthy appetite level. It also has natural antimicrobial properties and can be helpful for coughs.
4. Helichrysum Oil

Helichrysum essential oil has many benefits to pets thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal properties. (16) For pets, it’s excellent for decreasing bleeding due to accidents and for general skin rejuvenation as well. Helichrysum oil is also used to support the nervous system and boost heart health.
5. Fennel Oil

Fennel essential oil has a sweet smell similar to licorice and is commonly employed to treat digestive issues in humans. In cats, it may be able to help balance the pituitary, thyroid and pineal glands. If your cat has a buildup of fluid and/or toxins in its tissues, topical application of diluted fennel may help break up that unhealthy buildup and get things back to normal.
How to Use Essential Oils for Pets

You should only use 100 percent pure essential oils for pets and always dilute them before application unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian. How much oil should you use? Recommendations vary, and you should ask your vet if you’re feeling unsure, but a safe bet is starting with a single drop of essential oil in 50 drops of carrier oil, such as coconut, olive or almond oil. Another recommendation is to use three to six drops of essential oil(s) to one ounce of carrier oil.

Of course, it’s important to adjust the amount of oils you use depending on your pet’s size and age. Use less of a diluted oil with smaller dogs and cats, as well as puppies, kittens and senior pets.

To enable your pet to benefit from the scent of essential oils, put one to two drops of essential oil in a diffuser and allow the aroma to permeate the living space for 10 to 15 minutes.

Here is some caution with using essential oils with cats or dogs:

    Be familiar with your pet’s health status, and check with your vet to make sure no essential oils are contraindicated for your pet due to its breed or a health condition.
    Observe your pet’s reaction to essential oils, and stop using them if you observe any adverse reactions.
    Never use essentials oils for pets around delicate areas, including the eyes, ears, nose and genitals.
    Do not add essential oils to your pet’s food or drinking water unless instructed to by your vet.
    Do not use essential oils with puppies under 10 weeks of age.
    Do not use oils on epileptic pets who are prone to seizures.
    If your pet is pregnant or nursing, check with your vet before using any essential oils and be especially careful with introducing her to essential oils (that includes your own use in her vicinity).

More Precautions, Including Oils to NEVER Use for Pets

To be on the safe side, you can always talk to your veterinarian before using essential oils for animals. Cats are especially at risk for essential oil reactions. It’s vital that you choose 100 percent pure, therapeutic-grade and certified USDA organic essential oils free of adulterants and additives for use with your pets.

Both cats and dogs have very sensitive senses of smell so essential oils should always be used in extremely small amounts and diluted with a carrier oil. It’s also important to remember what oils you can and cannot use in an oil diffuser around your pet. When using aromatools like a diffuser, make sure to provide an escape route so your dog or cat doesn’t feel trapped. It’s also not recommended to force the use of any oils on pets when they clearly do not like them.

The list of toxic essential oils varies between cats and dogs. It’s also important to remember that each pet can react differently to certain essential oils and could have a negative reaction even if the oils aren’t on this list below. The following two lists are not exhaustive but include some common essential oils known to be problematic for dogs and cats.

It’s estimated that up to 80 percent of adults experience persistent symptoms of lower back pain at some point in their lives, and about 31 million Americans struggle with the condition at any given time. Given its extremely high prevalence rate — whether due to a weak psoas muscle, sciatic nerve pain or some other cause — it’s not surprising that lower back pain is considered the single leading cause of disability worldwide according to the American Chiropractic Association, with half of all American workers reporting having occasional back troubles each year. (1) Naturally, this leads to millions searching for lower back pain relief.

Lower back pain can be mild to very severe depending on its underlying causes, how long it’s been left untreated and the state of someone’s overall health. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that several important risk factors for lower back problems include family history of back pain, smoking or using tobacco, being overweight or obese, being female, being anxious or depressed, and either doing too much physical work or living a sedentary lifestyle.

One of the most common reasons people develop low back pain is posture. Postural problems, including spinal abnormalities, along with muscular compensations or inactivity put added pressure on the back. Although people of all ages experience low back pain — including both athletes and those who are sedentary — middle-aged to older adults (especially when they’re overweight) are most likely to develop severe symptoms and therefore can benefit from lower back pain relief treatments like chiropractic care, soft tissue therapy and regular exercise.
Natural Treatments for Lower Back Pain Relief
1. Chiropractic Adjustments and Other Postural Treatments

Regular chiropractic care adjustments have proved to be very effective at helping provide lower back pain relief, especially when combined with other treatments like physical therapy (if needed), exercise, massage therapy or soft tissue therapies.

Patient information articles published in both the Journal of North American Spine Society and the Journal of the American Medical Association found evidence that spinal manipulations were safe, effective, drugless forms of professional treatment for both acute (short-term or sudden) and chronic low back problems in adults. (2, 3) Egoscue, another type of postural therapy protocol that focuses on fixing musculoskeletal misalignments, may also be able to help reduce and prevent back pain.
2. Regular Full-Body Exercise

Exercising regularly, including doing both cardio/aerobic exercises and strength training, can help reduce back pain by increasing flexibility, helping you maintain a healthy weight, reducing inflammation, improving posture and reducing muscular compensations/weakness.

The top exercises to strengthen your core to both prevent lower back pain and provide lower back pain relief are planks, cat and the cow, V-ups, swimmers, and rows.

Tips for getting the most lower back pain relief from exercise include:

    gradually starting any new program
    warming up and stretching before beginning a workout
    learning proper posture or form (especially when lifting heavy objects, squatting or climbing)
    wearing supportive sneakers, possibly with insoles if needed
    avoiding sitting too much during the day or periods of prolonged inactivity, such as bed rest, if possible
    giving yourself enough rest between tougher workouts to recover properly

As part of your exercise routine, you may want to consider doing yoga regularly for lower back pain relief. One study of over 960 people with low back pain found that those who completed a 12-week yoga program experienced greater improvements in back function and reduced pain compared to controls who did not participate. (4) There’s even evidence that mindfulness meditation, often practiced in some form with yoga, can also help people deal with chronic back pain more effectively. (5)
3. Soft Tissue Therapy

Soft tissue therapies — including active release technique, Graston technique or massages — may be able to help treat and prevent short- and long-term back problems without the use of drugs (or sometimes combined with medications for stronger effects).

Soft tissue therapies help treat the underlying causes of back pain, such as poor posture, muscular compensations, and weakness through manipulative, hands-on adjustments. These natural therapies can help “turn on” muscles that have been “turned off” due to past injuries and therefore eliminate added stress on painful parts of the back or legs. I recommend finding a practitioner who offers one of the following:

Core strengthening exercises to prevent low back pain - Dr. Axe

4. Prolotherapy for Chronic Injuries/Tissue Damage

Prolotherapy has been used to treat back pain for more than 50 years, according to a report by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. (6) Prolotherapy, including the specific type called PRP or dextrose/glucose prolotherapy treatments, use platelet-rich plasma and sometimes stem cells taken from your own body that contain growth factors that help heal damaged tissues.

Prolotherapy treatments work by naturally promoting a minor inflammatory response near damaged connective tissue, promoting regeneration and the growth of new, healthier tissue in the process. These treatments have been used to effectively reduce or heal chronic musculoskeletal conditions of the back, such as herniated/bulging discs, arthritis, osteoarthritis or other chronic joint pains, and tendonitis that affects the lower body and causes compensations in the spine. (7) For the most benefits, it seems that prolotherapy works best when combined with other back pain treatments, such as spinal manipulation, exercise and in some cases medications when needed.
5. An Anti-Inflammatory Diet High in Collagen

If you want to improve overall joint and muscular health, maintain a healthy body weight, lower inflammation, and prevent back pains from returning in the future, consuming a healthy, healing diet is key. Start adjusting your diet by eating more of the following unprocessed, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory foods to help with lower back pain relief:

    High-fiber foods — A high-fiber diet may be able to help you lose weight and overcome problems like high blood pressure, plus it’s beneficial for gut health and digestion. Constipation can make back pain worse, so eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are naturally high in fiber and other nutrients.
    Water — Stay hydrated to prevent muscle spasms, manage blood pressure and improve digestion. Drink eight glasses of water daily as dehydration can increase back pain.
    Potassium-rich foods — Potassium reduces swelling and is an important electrolyte for muscular and nerve functions. Include potassium-rich foods (which also tend to be high in beneficial magnesium) in as many of your meals as possible, such as green leafy vegetables, avocados, bananas, coconut water and cultured dairy.
    Omega-3 fats — Wild-caught fish and flaxseed are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and manage pain.
    Clean, lean protein foods — Choose pasture-raised chicken and turkey or grass-fed lean meats to provide your body with adequate protein needed to maintain muscle and bone health. Other good protein sources include cage-free eggs, fish, bone broth or other unprocessed protein powders, beans, and legumes.

To avoid unwanted weight gain, consuming inflammatory ingredients or complications due to nutrient deficiencies, reduce or eliminate the following foods: added sugar, sweetened beverages or snacks, refined vegetable oils, refined grain products, too much alcohol and tobacco products (smoking impairs blood flow and adds to nutrient deprivation to spinal tissues).
6. Supplements to Reduce Inflammation and Pain

    Fish oil (2,000 milligrams daily): People with back pain need higher doses of omega-3 fats to help reduce inflammation.  Supplementation is often required since most of our diets don’t include the necessary dosage.
    Turmeric (1,000 milligrams daily): Turmeric contains curcumin, which is the active ingredient that has powerful anti-inflammatory abilities, anti-aging effects and reduces pain.
    Proteolytic enzymes/bromelain and papain (500 milligrams three times daily): Found in pineapple, these enzymes are natural anti-inflammatories that also help reduce swelling.
    MSM (2,000–8,000 milligrams daily): MSM is an anti-inflammatory supplement that’s high in sulfur to help rebuild cartilage. It can help alleviate muscle spasms.
    Magnesium (400–500 milligrams daily): This mineral is sometimes called the “relaxation mineral” because it helps relax muscles and reduce stress. Decrease the dosage of magnesium if it causes diarrhea.
    Essential oils: Peppermint and wintergreen oil are effective analgesics that cool inflamed joints and reduce back pain. You can mix these oils with coconut oil and rub onto joints or make a homemade muscle rub. Frankincense and cypress oil reduce inflammation and improve circulation, which improves back pain.
    Capsaicin cream: Capsaicin cream (derived from hot chili peppers/cayenne) can be applied to the skin to temporarily reduce chemicals that contribute to inflammation and pain.

Lower Back Pain Causes and Risk Factors

The good news regarding back pain is this: Most cases of lower back pain are believed to be due to “mechanical” problems of the musculoskeletal system rather than serious illness or chronic health problems. Abnormalities, weakness, and added stress placed on the bones, joints, ligaments and muscles can all contribute to back problems. It’s been found that the most common causes of low back pain (there are many!) include: (8)

    Postural problems, including spinal abnormalities, such as ruptured disc, bulging disc or herniated disc. These back problems can cause the spongy, gel-filled cushions that lie between each vertebra to become compressed or fractured.
    Muscular strains and/weakness, or possibly fractures, that cause compensations and added pressure on the back (such as a weak core, tight hamstrings or weak glutes)
    Poor form when exercising
    Overtraining (over-exercising without enough rest between, especially when stretching is overlooked)
    Exercise or sports-related injuries or accidents, including pulls or strains
    Inflexibility and stiffness due to aging
    Wearing non-supportive shoes, especially if standing for long periods every day
    Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle
    Emotional/psychological stress
    Lack of sleep, sleeping in an uncomfortable sleep positions or sleeping on a poorly made mattress
    Arthritis and other joint irritation, degeneration or inflammation-related problems
    Osteoporosis (bone loss)
    Constipation, which can add pressure to the abdomen and cause muscle spasms
    Infections of the internal organs (such as kidney stones, kidney infections, blood clots or bone loss) or other chronic conditions that affect the immune system, such as autoimmune disorders or cancer

Facts and Figures About Lower Back Pain

    Both men and women commonly develop back pain, however some research shows women tend to have more recurrent symptoms.
    Overweight adults who don’t exercise and have other health issues (like spinal problems) are at the highest risk for back pains.
    The incidence of low back pain is highest in someone’s 30s, and overall prevalence increases with age until the 60–65 age group, at which point it seems to decline.
    Globally, back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work days and the second most common reason for doctor office visits. It’s estimated that around 13 million people go to the doctor for chronic back pain every year.
    Approximately 2.4 million Americans are chronically disabled due to back problems. At any given time, around 2.4 million adults are temporarily disabled. (9)
    Studies show that back pain symptoms tend to come back. The rate of recurrence at one year ranges from 24 percent to 80 percent depending on the group. (10)
    Americans spend at least $50 billion each year to help diagnose and treat various lower back pain symptoms.
    Back pain can be both acute (defined as pain that lasts between four and 12 weeks) and chronic (pain that persists for 12 weeks or longer). (11) About 20 percent of people affected by acute low back pain develop chronic low back pain that winds up lasting more than one year.
    The majority of lower back pain cases are caused by irritation/inflammation of five spinal vertebrae (referred to as L1–L5) in the lumbar region, which supports much of the weight of the upper body. Thirty-one pairs of nerves are also rooted to the spinal cord, which can cause radiating pain downward or outward.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Lower Back Pain

Back pain affects everyone differently, which makes sense considering there are so many different reasons it can develop, along with various parts of the back/spine that can be affected. Common signs and symptoms of lower back pain can include: (12)

    Tenderness and pain radiating from the low back downward into the thighs. This is likely to be worse when walking, exercising, standing or moving.
    Stiffness in the lower back and reduced range of motion. In moderate to severe cases, this can stop you from walking, bending, climbing or lifting normally.
    Pain when sleeping or once standing up in the morning.
    Inability to stand up for long periods or worsened pain when you do.
    Discomfort near the tail bone while sitting, especially when sitting for long periods, such as at work or when driving.
    Muscle weakness, heaviness or numbness near the thighs and lower back.
    Sharp pains following a sudden injury, impact, trauma, collision or fall (such as from a sports injury, strain from lifting, car accident or too much twisting or bending).

Lower back pain relief diet - Dr. Axe
Conventional Treatment for Lower Back Pain Relief

Today, the most common conventional treatments for lower back pain relief are medications, including NSAIDS like aspirin and Tylenol, along with more potent prescription painkillers, such analgesics. These drugs can potentially cause adverse side effects in some patients and commonly don’t solve the underlying causes of lower back pain (such as poor posture, obesity or exercise-related strains). Some medications for back pains have even been tied to complications, such as liver damage or intestinal bleeding, when taken for long periods of time or in high doses.

After reviewing data regarding various treatments for lower back pain, the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality concluded that those suffering from back pain should first try conservative/natural treatments and then consider other options for lower back pain relief if pain persists. Oftentimes low back pain sufferers can find relief naturally by making changes to their lifestyles (including sleep, physical activity, stress and body weight) before choosing more intensive care options.
Precautions Regarding Lower Back Pain and Lower Back Pain Relief

Although most cases of back pain are “uncomplicated” and should be able to heal with the treatments mentioned above, sometimes in severe cases other interventions are necessary. Speak to your doctor if you experience lower back pain that does not get better in a few days or weeks. If back pain starts suddenly, look out for other symptoms that may point to a more serious condition, such as a fever, chills, dizziness, numbness or unexplained weight loss.

Always visit a doctor or the emergency room following trauma to the spine, especially if the patient is a child or over 70 years old. Mention to your doctor any possible associations with back pain, including autoimmune disease, infections, a history of kidney problems or cancer.

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